Last week we buried a 25-year-old. Her three-year-old will grow up only knowing Mommy from stories and a few cellphone videos. Of course, she's not the only young person to die. There are a lot of people burying their babies — be they 4 or 54. Her mother (my cousin) is heartbroken. It's horrible when parents have to bury their children. It feels so wrong.
How do we deal with the pain and evil in this world? What can we say to the hurting?
There are lots of books about the problem of evil. CS Lewis' The Problem of Pain is the best I've found, but there are many good ones.
But they're all useless right now. When people are hurting, they don't want — or need — careful reasoned arguments. They aren't even capable of processing them. While the heart is hurting, the head has a hard time listening.
So what can we say?
It's ok to be sad, and it's ok to be angry. It feels wrong for parents to bury their children because it is wrong. That is not the way it's supposed to be. This isn't the way this world is supposed to be. The pain, the grief, the sin — it isn't supposed to be here.
This world is broken, and we all suffer because of it.
So what do we tell each other, and ourselves, when the pain threatens to overwhelm us?
God is good. You knew it before. It hasn't changed now.
God is good.
God is powerful.
God has a plan.
He has gone to a great deal of trouble to fix the mess we've made. The time has not yet come, but soon he will replace this world with one where everything is just the way it's supposed to be.
In the meantime, let the pain remind us that this world is broken. Hate this world. This is not the way it's supposed to be. Look forward to the day, long for the day, when all things will be made new. Right now we weep, and God weeps with us. But one day he will wipe away every tear.
Come, Lord Jesus.